Every two years, we eagerly watch from our homes as swimmers break world records or skiers fly down the slopes, and with every passing event, IoT becomes more and more embedded in all of our relationships with The Olympics. From how we watch and engage with the athletes and the sports, to training, to even how judges assess athletes’ technique and performance, the Internet of Things is playing an increasingly valuable role in not just the Olympic Games, but in all sports as we know it.
IoT Technology in the Olympics
At the Rio and Tokyo Olympics, IoT technology improved the accuracy and interactivity of the Games. These are some of the top six IoT technologies used in the recent Olympic Games.
One of the biggest IoT providers in Japan introduced the smart stadium to the Tokyo Olympics. Smart stadiums enhanced the user experience for spectators at the Olympics and for people watching at home. A smart stadium is blanketed with wireless connectivity that allows everyone in the stadium to have fast and easy access to the internet. For viewers at home, the smart stadiums increase instant replays on the stadium’s app that make it easier to see what’s happening in real-time. Athletes are able to see real-time metrics as well, thanks to the connectivity in the stadium.
For attendees in the stadium, smart stadiums enhance the experience of being in the stadium. Spectators can watch the real-time replays while panning their phones over different areas of the stadium for more details and an up-close view. Augmented reality lets spectators zoom in on athletes for their stats and performance. Attendees can also monitor concessions and restrooms to limit the amount of time spent in line.
Toyota helped develop robot assistants for the Tokyo Olympics. These robots greet spectators and athletes as well as provide on-field assistance. The robots can retrieve javelins and hammers to return to athletes, and they can guide staff across these dangerous fields to help them do their jobs while keeping them clear of thrown equipment. To make sure these robots can assist everyone, they are programmed to understand and speak many languages. IoT connectivity allows the robots to communicate, move, scan, and choose routes.
An important part of Olympic accuracy is knowing who crossed the finish line first. Replay cameras are only so accurate. That’s why scanner cameras are a key part of increasing the accuracy of the Olympics. Starting with the Rio Olympics, special cameras are used to do a fine-tune analysis and filming of events to help officials determine who won.
Scanner cameras can also increase audience enjoyment. These cameras zoom in on specific events with revolutionary accuracy so that spectators online can focus on just a small portion of the event. For example, the scanner cameras help show individual gymnastic events to make it easy to see their event without the distractions of the other gymnasts in rotation.
Pool Lap Counters
Scanner cameras may work well for the track and the gym, but there needs to be something different in the pool. These special pool lap counters are placed on the walls for the athletes to touch after each length. The sensors register and track an athlete’s progress with precision. These same sensors are then used to determine the order of who hit the wall at the end of the race—down to millisecond differences.
The Tokyo Olympics implemented an additional bit of pool tech to improve athlete experience. There are now waterproof screens in the pool that are connected with the lap counters that help athletes track their own progress—especially for long races. These lap counters improve athlete accuracy and experience during the Games.
Like swimming events, archery requires extreme precision to determine results and medals. Prior to IoT advancements, archery experts would determine the position of the arrow. Now advanced sensors can pinpoint the exact location of the hit and immediately display the results on a screen for competitors and spectators alike. In addition, these sensors are accurate up to 0.2 mm. Archery targets also include force sensors in the bullseye that immediately score the hit.
Security Camera Systems
Security is crucial for sporting events, especially for one as big as the Olympics. IoT security cameras helped monitor crowds and provide constant surveillance of arenas at the Rio Games. For the Tokyo Olympics, tech companies increased network security. They tested hacking IoT devices on the network to root out easy access points for hackers.
How IoT Has Affected the Games
All of these IoT advancements have helped improve the Olympic Games in two main areas: accuracy and accessibility. Accuracy is crucial to keeping the Olympics competitive, fair, and exciting. Ensuring the accuracy of the results improves the experience for athletes and spectators alike. The increased filming and zoom allow more events to be broadcast worldwide. IoT also helps provide more angles and information for viewing.
IoT is only going to continue shaping the future of the Olympic Games and other sporting events. From IoT SIM cards connecting robots and sensors to security cameras and scanners, IoT in sports will keep making events accurate and accessible—and fun for athletes and viewers alike.